CHICAGO -- There were screams of joy, dancing, food and plenty of fun to be had Monday afternoon on 83rd and Paulina during an old-fashioned block party courtesy of playwright Messiah Equiano, who grew up on that block.
"We wanted to come together and say well we can have peace in Chicago on any block that we want to," Equiano said.
It’s much happier and positive scene compared to the violence that has marred Memorial Day weekend in Chicago.
As of 6:30 p.m. Monday, Chicago police report two people have been killed and 27 injured in shootings since Friday night. It’s an improvement over last holiday weekend when six people were killed and 69 others injured.
Dubbed the Chi-Rise Love Pop-up Party by Equiano, the block party was funded in part by a grant from the Chicago Community Trust. Equiano says about 250 people have come out to partake in the celebration his aunt helped to organize.
"People just walking up, we feeding them and showing them a lot of love, that’s all, we gotta get back to that," said organizer Stephanie Rudolph.
Police have saturated the streets with an extra 1,300 patrol officers on the streets for the weekend and conducted raids, arresting more than 150 people and recovering more than 20 illegal guns. Alderman David Moore says the reduction in shootings citywide is following a trend he’s seen in his ward.
"You have to be proactive, you can’t be reactive to the situation," Moore said. "When you continue to do this, we’ll continue to see this reduction in crime."
Equiano also believes the message of love is taking hold.
"We not savages, we not animals, we human beings that love to have a good time, just like everybody else and that’s what we wanted to show and demonstrate today," Equiano said.
Equiano says he hopes to do another event later this summer.